Reviewed by Lakshminarashiman and Shahaan.
I was standing amidst an endless crowd. I could feel nothing but something more than just exotic. Once in a while I did feel a few hard squeezes of palms, and a few palms tapping on my back and shoulders.
My vision was blurred. I couldn’t completely take in the reality. Somewhere a few meters away from me in my misty vision, I could see Thanu in a similar conundrum of handling the cheers.
I badly wished Shantanu to be there at the moment. Anu made futile attempts to bring me back to my senses. I could very well sense what she was doing. If only I could pull my soul back into my body I would have been able to respond to her.
After what looked like a partial coma for a while, finally I was able to hear Anu, “Look there..” she was pointing her finger to the far end of the crowd, towards the silhouette of a person leaning against the wall with his hands crossed across his chest.
Even in the twilight, the sweet unambiguous smile was not difficult for me to identify. I pushed across the crowd, and reached him. His posture didn’t change, and he was still smiling at me. A drop of tear trickled down my cheeks.
First time I gave some expression on what has just happened. I smiled back.
“We did it.” He said boisterously.
Amidst my madness it took not more than a second for me to learn what he meant. Before I could ask him, he continued, “25Laks sanctioned for our presence in Chennai and Bangalore. Shantanu will be proprietor of a business right out of college.” With his pop prideful smile.
I was undoubtedly the happiest person on earth at that moment. I couldn’t find something to drain my booming bliss. I felt like I would explode. I wanted to get out, before I could do something stupid when half the college was there.
“Get me out of here.” I told him.
He grabbed the Google kit from my hands and thrust it onto Anu; grabbed my hands and started hurrying me off the crowd.
We reached my gramps’ guest house. No sooner than the door hinges sealed back behind us we were sealed together. After something like five minutes, I was lying on the couch panting, Shantanu lying on the floor near the couch.
“I-am-the-happieee-sst-man on-earth” he took deep breaths between words. We both were laughing. I was staring at the ceiling hearing our laughs echo across the length of the hall. We spent an eternity just lying.
“You know something I felt like I saw you just before going for the final round.”
He laughed louder. “You actually saw me. I was right there.”
“What would we been doing now if I had not got in?”
“Hmmm.. instead of ice-creams we might have been having vodka.” He simpered.
“What! You would have let me have vodka if I failed?”
“Well I think so.”
“You should have told me this before” He jumped up on the couch wild, but this time I pushed him aside, may be because I was still panting or I was too timid to go further.
He didn’t protest. He got up, and said “I will go get something for us.”
“Do you honestly feel like having something now?” I asked rechecking my intestines whether there was any little gap that was left unoccupied by my over-flowing bliss.
“Well, not if you had let me have you.” He simpered back, and walked out of the door. It took me a while to make out the meaning. When I did, the thought that Shantanu could make such statements made me smile.
I was feeling so weary after such a long day. I took a refreshing cold shower. When I walked out of the bathroom I was almost shivering, the air-conditioner had reached the set temperature of 16 degrees. I dressed up in my night gown, and was wondering what was talking him so long.
The bell rang and he had a big package in his hand. He stepped in and emptied the contents on the couch. I couldn’t count them all, but I bet there must have been more than a couple dozen family packs of different flavors of ice-creams.
“What on earth are these?”
“Ice-creams” he winked. “My debit card could only buy this much.”
I keeping my hands on my hips, “I learnt what ice-creams are, when I was in my KGs.”
“Then why do you ask?” He smiled unsealing a pack. “Tonight, we party.”
We were in a mad spree of finishing off the packs. I badly wanted to do something mad since that evening. I didn’t care about the spoons and used my fingers to empty the crates. After finishing somewhere around half a dozen crates in a mad race to finish more than the other, we gave up.
We sat on the floor in the middle of the ice-cream crates. With half our skin and clothes covered with ice cream. I was feeling like I had grown younger by 15yrs.
We placed the crates into the freezer. Our faces were half white with the cream, and a few plums here and there. We would have made perfect examples of what would it be to let a couple of 3yr olds uncontrolled access to ice-creams.
Shantanu’s romantic music collections were playing pleasantly. ‘…..but Iiiiii can’t help, falling in love with you….” We were determined to make it more than just a memorable day.
I had my left arm on his shoulder with his right around my waist. We were dancing in a blissful shower of music ‘…somethings are meant to be… take my hand. For..’. I joined the artist, “I can’t stop falling in love with you.” I gently told his left ear with the air from my lungs reaching beyond his pinna.
He picked a plum from my cheek with his lips. We were cleaning each other off the creams like cute little puppies. This childish play gradually turned to gentle caressing. Night crept over, filling darkness all-over the place.
The last thing I remember in that dazzling darkness was the last piece of my clothing slip away from my skin.